BigLaw in the Middle East?

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shantiom
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BigLaw in the Middle East?

Postby shantiom » Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:57 am

There's been some discussion of the Asian Legal Market on this board. I was wondering if similar info on prospects for working in a Biglaw office in a place like Abu Dhabi (Allen & Overy, White & Case, Latham & Watkins amongst others seem to have offices there. Many have opened quite recently.) is available.

More specifically, do these offices typically take 2L SAs from top US schools? Besides proficiency/fluency in Arabic and top grades, what criteria effect the hiring of graduates for those offices? Finally, is it typical for associates/partners to lateral to another firm/office in the United States or do people tend to stay in the region for their careers?

Any light on this would be greatly appreciated.

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happy187
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Re: BigLaw in the Middle East?

Postby happy187 » Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:53 am

I would be curious too, although I've been to Abu Dhabi several times and it is niiiiccee.

Jadcia
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Re: BigLaw in the Middle East?

Postby Jadcia » Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:09 am

None of the offices have summer programs. Arabic proficiency is not required. It would be a plus, but it isn't something that you would need to work there. The most important thing for a lot of the offices is that you would want to stay there long term. For the most part a lot of people come in for a year or two, but most offices are looking for people who want to actually stay in those offices for a while and aren't just looking for an in to transfer to London, Paris or NY after a couple of years. Most firms would want to know why you want to be there and saying that the city is nice or seems cool isn't going to cut it. Although Dubai and Abu Dhabi are bustling, it can be a tough place for singles and that's something the firms will take into account. While most don't have a summer program, some will take you on as an intern for a few hundred $/wk. You won't make what you make in a US firm, but getting experience in the region could be helpful to decide whether or not you actually want to live there.

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goosey
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Re: BigLaw in the Middle East?

Postby goosey » Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:36 am

Jadcia wrote:None of the offices have summer programs. Arabic proficiency is not required. It would be a plus, but it isn't something that you would need to work there. The most important thing for a lot of the offices is that you would want to stay there long term. For the most part a lot of people come in for a year or two, but most offices are looking for people who want to actually stay in those offices for a while and aren't just looking for an in to transfer to London, Paris or NY after a couple of years. Most firms would want to know why you want to be there and saying that the city is nice or seems cool isn't going to cut it. Although Dubai and Abu Dhabi are bustling, it can be a tough place for singles and that's something the firms will take into account. While most don't have a summer program, some will take you on as an intern for a few hundred $/wk. You won't make what you make in a US firm, but getting experience in the region could be helpful to decide whether or not you actually want to live there.
I\

I spoke to a few firms in the region and was told that I should email them in the beginning of 2L and that I would do a summer associate position that summer if my grades made the cut (top 1/3 at a top 50 school)--well, Im going to BLS and that *isnt* top 50 so not quite sure how this would work out, but I will still try

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yinz
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Re: BigLaw in the Middle East?

Postby yinz » Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:57 am

I met up with an alum who worked in Dubai for two years. One story he told that was memorable:

"I was finalizing a deal between two oil sultans on my client's full-staffed, 150 foot yacht. The meeting took place on the top deck and both my client and the offeror were middle-aged, obscenely hairy men wearing nothing but speedos. We finalized the deal by jumping into the Gulf."

Jadcia
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Re: BigLaw in the Middle East?

Postby Jadcia » Tue Jun 15, 2010 10:07 am

goosey wrote:
Jadcia wrote:None of the offices have summer programs. Arabic proficiency is not required. It would be a plus, but it isn't something that you would need to work there. The most important thing for a lot of the offices is that you would want to stay there long term. For the most part a lot of people come in for a year or two, but most offices are looking for people who want to actually stay in those offices for a while and aren't just looking for an in to transfer to London, Paris or NY after a couple of years. Most firms would want to know why you want to be there and saying that the city is nice or seems cool isn't going to cut it. Although Dubai and Abu Dhabi are bustling, it can be a tough place for singles and that's something the firms will take into account. While most don't have a summer program, some will take you on as an intern for a few hundred $/wk. You won't make what you make in a US firm, but getting experience in the region could be helpful to decide whether or not you actually want to live there.
I\

I spoke to a few firms in the region and was told that I should email them in the beginning of 2L and that I would do a summer associate position that summer if my grades made the cut (top 1/3 at a top 50 school)--well, Im going to BLS and that *isnt* top 50 so not quite sure how this would work out, but I will still try


Are you sure they said you would be an actual Summer Associate? All of the firms I have talked to, and the one I am working for now, have said that interning is all that they have in the region for now. I'm working for a firm now now as 1L and they mentioned that they might be able to create a 2L summer program for me, if I wanted to come back the next year. Most US/UK firms there were willing to take on an intern, but they didn't have any type of actual programming for the summers, well for me, since I'm the only one. It's definitely a self-starter kind of place.

yinz wrote:I met up with an alum who worked in Dubai for two years. One story he told that was memorable:

"I was finalizing a deal between two oil sultans on my client's full-staffed, 150 foot yacht. The meeting took place on the top deck and both my client and the offeror were middle-aged, obscenely hairy men wearing nothing but speedos. We finalized the deal by jumping into the Gulf."


As for these types of stories, I would say they are probably 100% true. I lived in the region for a while before starting law school and it's a totally different legal environment. Billables mean a lot less because there are fewer clients. Business development becomes really important and knowing the right people makes all the difference. Not just for getting their business, but for making other deals go a lot smoother. It's a whole different ball of wax that can be very frustrating and/or ridiculously rewarding.

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shantiom
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Re: BigLaw in the Middle East?

Postby shantiom » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:08 pm

Thank you all for your insight.

@Jadcia: I certainly like the sound of a more business-development type environment. However, the prospect of giving up a lucrative SA for an internship sounds a little... risky? The nice thing about the SA is that you are effectively in the running for an offer. An internship doesn't necessarily have the same benefit. And yes, there's a decent difference between what the SAs get paid and a paid internship.

Is this typically the only way to "break into" the region? To your (or anybody's) knowledge, does OCI offer anything by way of opportunities? Is is possible to express office preference when in the running?

Also, could you possibly ballpark what a starting associate at one of these offices would make? I'm sure its less than NY/DC/Cali etc Biglaw, but does it compare to secondary markets? The thing to keep in mind is even if its 30-40k less, the fact that earnings are tax free (at least in the Emirates) could potentially defray the opportunity cost.

Jadcia wrote:
yinz wrote:I met up with an alum who worked in Dubai for two years. One story he told that was memorable:

"I was finalizing a deal between two oil sultans on my client's full-staffed, 150 foot yacht. The meeting took place on the top deck and both my client and the offeror were middle-aged, obscenely hairy men wearing nothing but speedos. We finalized the deal by jumping into the Gulf."


As for these types of stories, I would say they are probably 100% true. I lived in the region for a while before starting law school and it's a totally different legal environment. Billables mean a lot less because there are fewer clients. Business development becomes really important and knowing the right people makes all the difference. Not just for getting their business, but for making other deals go a lot smoother. It's a whole different ball of wax that can be very frustrating and/or ridiculously rewarding.


The whole business development/client cultivation is what really appeals to me about working in the region. I would imagine making those connections gives one great exit options should one chose them.

mhernton
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Re: BigLaw in the Middle East?

Postby mhernton » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:21 pm

awesome thread. I'm really curious as well. I wouldn't mind returning there for a few years, before coming back to the US or somewhere in Europe.

Jadcia
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Re: BigLaw in the Middle East?

Postby Jadcia » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:48 pm

As far as the experience goes working in the Gulf, I'm doing work that other junior associates have said they didn't get to do while they were SAs. My school's OCI doesn't have any connection with the Middle East. The closest thing would be firms that have offices in the Gulf, but don't allow you to summer there. I don't think there are any firms in the region that have programs. There might be the possibility of spending a few weeks there, but that would be up to the summer program. The London summer firms would probably be more likely to allow you to do that. NY/DC/LA firms will probably not want their summers to go straight to the ME and spend at least 2 years in their US offices.

Connections are the best way to break into the region. Show some connection and that you want to be there and that certainly helps. Saying you want to work there for a couple of years may or may not work depending on the amt of work they have and if someone would be able to mentor you. As far as salary goes, I'm not really sure about what it would be. One thing to keep in mind is housing is insanely expensive there. I mean, it puts NYC and DC to shame. I have friends there spending 3k/mo on a 2bedroom place in an older high rise. Some people may spend 4-5k to be in a nicer, possibly serviced apartment. All of the Gulf states are w/o income tax as far as I know, but you do have to pay US taxes. The good thing is you don't have to pay it on your first 90k I believe and you do also get a tax break on any housing allowance you might get, but that depends on the country your living in. It could range from a 15k exemption to 70k worldwide.

GermX
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Re: BigLaw in the Middle East?

Postby GermX » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:55 pm

I thought I was the only one interested in this. But personally I am more interested in NYC law even though I lived in Dubai for 7 years.




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